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Fire destroys house in Shelburne

  • Firefighters from several area towns battle wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply hamper firefighters as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters from several area towns battle wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A firefighter pulls down a section of wall as crews try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters from several area towns battle wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters from several area towns battle wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. January 5, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters from several area towns battle wind, freezing temperatures and a limited water supply as they try to extinguish a house fire on Fiske Mill Road in Shelburne Friday. Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Friday, January 05, 2018

SHELBURNE — While a husband and wife were away at work, the ranch house they have been renting from a friend for the past month on Fiske Mill Road was destroyed by fire, leaving nothing but some of the frame on a brutally cold Friday afternoon.

“I don’t have a reaction yet,” said a stunned Mike Herzig, who was renting the house and watching as firefighters continued to battle the fire.

Herzig said he and his wife had been renting the home from friend Paul Pulaski, who is in Florida.

There was no one in the home, nor any pets, Herzig said. The couple moved there after selling their Colrain home in the fall. The furniture in the house was Pulaski’s while the couple lost clothing and other personal items.

Herzig said he wasn’t sure about the cause of the fire, which is under investigation by Shelburne Fire Department and the state fire marshal. He said the house had a wood stove that they used every day, but nothing was different today than any other day. He added, “unless it was the wind.”

Herzig said Pulaski’s cousin Dennis Benz, who lives in the area, let him and his wife know about the incident. Benz said the Pulaskis had been in Florida since September, but were going to be booking the next flight they could back.

As Herzig and Benz stood watching, firefighters from around the county continued to fight the brutal cold, with winds whipping and fresh snow blowing off the hills that lead into Colrain. After about a two-hour battle with the flames, the crews were able to bring the fire under control.

There was little chance to save the home when Shelburne Fire Department and the surrounding towns first responded to the fire around 11:30 a.m. At that point, the flames were burning the roof of the house, and the structure was crumbling, Shelburne Fire Chief John Taylor said.

A passerby reported the fire, with the ranch nearly half engulfed, Taylor said. If the home had a fire sprinklers or an alarm, there’s a chance the situation could’ve ended differently, he added. 

With temperatures hovering around zero, it became a challenge to keep water coming to the ranch. Fire departments went to the old Duck Pond, on the bottom of Colrain Shelburne Road and Route 2. They kept a steady stream on the fire, but were limited to the amount of water they had and the speed with which they could use it, Taylor said. 

“There’s not a lot of positives when someone loses their house, but nobody got hurt and the water didn’t freeze up on us,” he said. 

Crews worked against winds that shoved the light but icy snow into their faces, all the while pushing the smoke into the woods that surrounded the home.

Shelburne Police Patrolman Tucker Jenkins was in charge of the scene and said the department will be part of the investigation, along with state police and the state fire marshal.

“It was a miserable day to fight a fire,” Taylor said, as his team continued to seek hot spots and douse any embers.

Greenfield, Shelburne, Colrain, Buckland and South Deerfield fire departments were at the scene.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264